Authors: Registered Dietitians
(HealthCastle.com) March is Nutrition Month in Canada. As a spokesperson for the Dietitians of Canada, I always like to share the initiatives and information we put together to get people thinking and talking about eating better during this month. This year, Dietitians of Canada conducted a survey to find out about Canadians' grocery shopping habits. I was really surprised by some of the results!
Survey Results: Canadians are Overwhelmed and Confused at the Grocery Store
Here are some key findings from the survey:
- Almost two-thirds of Canadians struggle with with making healthier food choices in the grocery store at least half the time they shop.
- Only about a third of Canadians plan meals in advance.
- Just over half of Canadians usually read nutrition labels before purchasing foods, but many don't understand them.
I'm a huge advocate for using the nutritional information available on food labels to make healthy food choices, but I also support buying a lot of foods that don't come with nutrition labels – like lots of fresh produce. To make sure you make the healthiest food choices in the store and in your kitchen, the Dietitians of Canada recommend some simple suggestions for each of the four stages at which we interact with food: plan, shop, cook, and enjoy.
Ways to Make Healthy Choices at Every Stage of Food Interaction
- Plan: If only about a third of us plan meals in advance, that means about two-thirds of us don't. But if you plan your meals ahead of time and shop based on what you need to make the foods you want to eat, you're less likely to be tempted by impulse purchases of highly processed or junk foods. Planning using store flyers can also help you save money when you shop.
- Shop: Load up on fresh foods from the perimeter of the store, but choose healthy packaged foods, too. They make your meal prep much easier and mean you don't have to shop as often. Look for nutritious canned items like low-sodium canned vegetables, beans, and fish; dry beans and lentils; and whole grain cereal.
- Cook: I always say that anything you cook at home is going to be better for you than packaged meals or greasy takeout. It's okay to "cheat" a little by using pre-cut frozen veggies, pre-cut and washed salad mix, meat pre-cut into stir-fry strips, and so on.
- Enjoy: Take the time to sit down and enjoy your meals with your family, rather than always eating on the run. You'll enjoy your food more, and you might find you actually end up eating less!
That's it! I hope these simple tips will help make it easier for you to make healthy food choices this Nutrition Month, and for the rest of the year, too.